Soil, temperature and sunlight have a major effect on how well the sensitive plants thrive. As the coffee farmers cannot influence the environmental conditions, they have to apply their skills to get the best from their plants. The training courses teach them how far apart to set the coffee plants to give them the right amount of space and sunlight and how to fertilise and harvest efficiently.
Already 150 of our farmers produce coffee according to the UTZ standard. By 2021, we aim to double this number. As part of UTZ certification, we help farmers to increase their productivity and are committed to sustainable coffee cultivation. In other words, respect for people and the environment is very important to us. Oswaldo has recently started growing UTZ-certified coffee. His personal goal is to apply more effective techniques in coffee harvesting and processing and thus to sustainably improve the quality of his coffee. Since certification, he has been working with a farm calendar and documents when and which work steps have to be done.
Coffee farming is about more than just growing the plants. Coffee growers must focus on efficient farm management. Training courses help them to learn how to keep accurate control of income and expenditure. Agronomic knowledge, such as the right way to fertilise, to prune the branches or to harvest, is also on the curriculum. And last but not least, they learn how to cut the weeds using a machete.
Every step of the production process affects the coffee's quality, including harvesting. Unripe cherries negatively influence the coffee's flavour profile. So the ripe cherries are only picked by hand in La Laguna. Since the cherries do not all ripen at the same time, the picking takes places in several stages. Hand-picking takes a lot of time and effort but pays off in the quality of the coffee.
Theoretical knowledge is all well and good but having a real example helps when putting it into practice. That is why model farms have been set up together with some farmers. These provide demonstrations of the best ways to cultivate the coffee and what methods work best in practice. This turns theory into tangible reality and helps the farmers to get to grips with it. Copycats welcome!